Wikipedia wars part 2

Recently I reported on my struggle to correct the third hand smoke entry on Wikipedia (see here).  The public source had the same alarmism that only the anti-smoking groups (and even some of them were embarrassed by this nonsense) and the  media seemed to promote with most everyone seeing this as too fantastic to consider in any sense.  Typically you would read an online news report about this new danger by reporters who failed to actually look at the actual study (for example Roni Rabin at the NYT who apparently teaches journalism and yet does not check sources) and then read comment after comment from average folks who saw right through the bad science and the writers who were crying wolf.

My initial results were discouraging but ultimately ended in success.  Despite misgivings, this ended in third hand smoke being temporarily removed and possibly returning simply as a reference to a concept rather than as a fact.  So I tentatively respect the Wikipedia process.

However third hand smoke was an easy battle; passive smoking in general would be the true test.  I have heard from others who have tried to tackle that one that it is impossible,  worse than the travails of Sisyphus, an unwinnable war against the zeitgeist that promotes sloppy science and unwarranted extrapolations when it comes to tobacco.

However, one small step….


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  • Chris Snowdon  On November 3, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I checked it a few days and was pleased to see you’d triumphed. Well done. Adding something to the discussion board probably helps. As you say, passive smoking is a whole other battle.

  • James  On November 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Is passive smoking something you believe in or not? I have my doubts, but don’t respected scientists such as Michael Siegel and Joel Nitzkin believe in it?

  • Paul  On November 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Personally I believe the risk is so low as to not worth worrying about. I don’t like people smoking in my house because of the smell and not because I am worried about having a heart attack. And though I appreciate smoke free bars, I don’t think they should all be smoke free because I feel that even if passive smoking has a greater effect than the good studies indicate, while living long is important it is not quite as important as living well. And sometimes living well might be having drinks with smokers in pubs. (Generally I find current Western society somewhat absurd when it comes to risk either in the overstating of small risks which are practically indistinguishable from chance, and in disproportionate emphasis of certain kinds of risks over others of the same magnitude).

    Siegel rates the risk higher than I do but he still finds that in general the risk is overstated by anti-smoking groups.


  • By On Wikipedia: part 3 « THR News&Opinions on November 5, 2009 at 9:51 am

    […] On Wikipedia: part 3 Posted in Uncategorized by smokles on November 5, 2009 Ran across this article from Boston Review by Evgeny Morozov on Wikipedia.  (Sheds some light on the troubles and tribulations written about in parts one and two). […]

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